|Author Name||NISHIMURA Kazuo (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) / MIYAMOTO Dai (Doshisha University) / YAGI Tadashi (Doshisha University)|
|Creation Date/NO.||March 2017 17-J-015|
|Research Project||Fundamental Research for Sustainable Economic Growth in Japan|
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The recent decline in research and development (R&D) productivity in Japan has been pointed out in the White Paper on Science and Technology published by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. In fact, the trends in the number of patent applications among the highest-ranking nations indicate that Japan is the only nation showing a decline in the absolute number of patent applications, consequently falling behind the United States and China, and allowing South Korea to close the gap. In addition, national income per capita and the number of articles published in engineering and technology fields also have seen a decline both in relative and absolute terms, leaving Japan lagging behind the leading nations. This decline in R&D productivity in Japan is not a transient trend.
What trains researchers is education. In Japan, the number of high school students taking Physics II or equivalent classes remains at the 10% level, showing a significant lack of interest in science among them, and this has led to the continuing decline in the number of young researchers. Some suggest that the reduction in the number of math and science class hours, owing to the changes in the curriculum guidelines, has contributed to this lack of interest in science among students.
This paper examines the association between changes in student enrollment in math and science classes during the high school years and the number of patent applications and renewals filed when they become researchers, for different age categories classified according to the year of introduction of changes to the curriculum guidelines.
The results indicate a significant difference in both the number of patent applications and renewals between researchers aged 47 or younger, who received junior high school education under the relaxed education policy (yutori kyoiku) for the full three years, and researchers aged 48 or older. In particular, the number of math and science class hours taken during the junior high school years show a correlation with the researchers' academic performance in math and physics during their high school years. These results identify the implications of changes to the curriculum guidelines on the decline in the number of patent applications and renewals filed by researchers in Japan.